The next normal: A day in the life of a school business manager

By Steve Cox | 3rd December 2020 | 16 min read

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we all live and work – quite possibly for good.

The level of transformation has been enormous – no matter what profession you work in.

The severe and rapidly changing rules and restrictions have had huge repercussions for schools, meaning must be more flexible than ever.

This has severely disrupted what the typical working day may have looked like pre-lockdown.

So, what does a ‘normal’ 24 hours look like for a school business manager in the age of COVID? And how can technology, such as school management software, help to make life easier and more productive, despite the challenges?

Below, we imagine a typical day in the ‘next normal’, looking at how IRIS Education may help each step of the way….

This is the day in the life of Stephanie, school business manager

8:00AM – Stephanie receives a phone call from administrator, Katie; a parent has been in touch to confirm a year 8 student has tested positive for COVID-19. As a few members of the team are working from home, Stephanie arranges a remote meeting with the management team to plan next steps.

8:30AM – The school leadership team assign out responsibilities following the announcement of a positive COVID-19 case; administrator, Katie, utilises IRIS Engage to circulate targeted messages to all year 8 students confirming that the year group must now remain at home and self-isolate due to a confirmed case of COVID-19. The message is automatically translated for parents for whom English is not a first language; the communication signposts parents to the school’s branded micro-site, hosted securely by IRIS Engage, where COVID-19 and remote learning policies and guidance are stored, alongside government advice on identifying symptoms of COVID-19. The communication also explains that learning resources will be added to the microsite in due course and further information will follow.

9:00AM – Stephanie writes a school-wide email to inform parents of the confirmed COVID-19 case in year 8. The email is passed along to Katie who circulates the email via IRIS Engage. A targeted email to families who the school understand to be ‘at risk’ is circulated to the appropriate parents, providing contact information to Stephanie for further information if required.

9:30AM – Following morning registrations, automated phone calls and messages are circulated to the parents of unauthorised absent students via Absence Call, a module within IRIS Engage. The system continues to contact parents until a response is received, freeing up Katie’s time and ensuring parents are notified quickly and proactively.

10:00AM – Stephanie speaks with IT and Facilities team managers to arrange the distribution of equipment (laptops, video equipment etc) to year 8 students and staff. IT manager, Louise, utilises IRIS Assets, the school asset manager app, to identify appropriate equipment, update records and assign to individual students before arranging delivery.

11AM – Stephanie attends a remote meeting with Finance Manager, James, who is currently working from home. PS Cloud enables James, Stephanie, and other senior management to access the same live and up-to-date data sheet and overview of the school's financial position, utilising IRIS Financials.

11.30AM - As a result of COVID-19, their financial plans will need to change to allow for extra expenditure on cleaning, staff training, and investment in new equipment to enable home learning and working. Using IRIS Financial Planner, James and Stephanie plan out potential expenditure and gain an accurate perspective of the impact of new investments. As a result, the management team can propose contingency plans and make considered financial decisions to minimise potential long-term impact on other vital resources.

12:00PM – Year 8 teaching staff update the school microsite with key learning resources, a timetable of classes and details on how to access video calls.

Via IRIS Engage, Katie updates the school Twitter and Facebook pages to inform their community of the latest news; she reminds parents to keep an eye out for messages on the MySchoolEd app for further information.

Katie also circulates a targeted message to parents of year 8 students, directing them to the school microsite where they can access resources to support student learning.

1:00PM – Stephanie is informed by a local primary school that, due to multiple confirmed COVID-19 cases, the school is temporarily closed. With local lockdowns spreading across the country, and particularly in her area, Stephanie realises the growing importance of a remote learning strategy and schedules a call with HR manager, Liam.

1:30PM – Liam and Stephanie refer to Every HR to identify those staff members in need of training on remote teaching. With a full and up-to-date history of staff training, skillsets and availability (including a member of staff soon to return from maternity leave), Liam can identify those with the experience required to effectively deliver lessons remotely. Stephanie can review the locations and responsibilities of her staff resource and Liam can reevaluate professional development plans for those in need of additional training.

2:00PM – Using IRIS Financial Planner and IRIS Financials, Finance Manager James, reviews the school’s financial outlook to align with additional teacher training and circulates an updated report to Stephanie for approval.

3:00PM – Katie receives the weekly lunchtime menu from the catering team and circulates to parents via IRIS Engage and IRIS FasTrak; she ensures year 8 students do not receive this communication. Katie runs a report to identify year 8 students receiving free school meals and sends a targeted message to the appropriate parents regarding access to meal vouchers.

4:00PM  - Katie has already started to receive lunchtime orders from parents for the week ahead and can report back to the catering team; parents make cashless payments via IRIS PlusPay, an online payment module with IRIS Engage, eliminating any requirement for students to handle cash in the canteen.

Want help adapting your working day to thrive in the next normal?

Check out our education management software to find out more.